The just ended 2023 Africa Climate Summit in Kenya offered an opportunity for legislators on the continent to discuss their roles in finding solution to the climate change challenge facing their people.
The forum dubbed; “Parliamentarians Dialogue” explore the role of the lawmakers and the potential contribution of parliaments to climate action.
It also provided a platform for parliamentarians who discussed various implementation pathways from their perspectives for the delivery of the commitments made during the 2023 Summit.
Beyond legislative avenues for climate action, the Dialogue also explore avenues for partnerships and collaborations between diverse stakeholders to expand African renewable energy and develop innovative green growth and climate finance solutions.
The Dialogue culminated in the passing of the Chairperson’s Summary or Outcome Statement of the Parliamentarians Dialogue at the Africa Climate Summit.
The Outcome Statement urges Parliamentarians to hold their governments to account for the commitments made on climate action and to ensure follow-through. It strongly advocates for the transition to renewable energy and for policies that encourage and accelerate the transition to clean and sustainable energy sources that align with Africa’s unique circumstances and respect the continent’s development agenda.
It signals the establishment of an African Parliamentarians’ Working Group on Climate Adaptation underscoring the importance of adaptation in the climate agenda and further recognises the important role of youth in shaping climate discourses.
CVF Youth Ambassador, Ms. Nakeeyat Dramani Sam urged participants in the Dialogue to make the voices and ambitions shared by young people heard, and to lead Africa towards a fair, sustainable and green future.
She called on rich polluters to “stop climate cheating”. In other words, by ignoring disparities between States, such as historical emissions, when setting climate targets, developed countries are cheating developing ones such as Ghana and accordingly urged for enhanced actions to tackle the crisis as vulnerable nations are already experiencing the effects of climate change, despite being less responsible for emissions than many other countries.
Unless these rich countries alter their climate targets to do their fair share, the 1.5°C limit set out in the Paris Agreement could be breached by 2030.
Addressing the Parliamentarians Dialogue, a Member of the Parliament of Egypt and Deputy Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee at the Egyptian House of Representatives, Hon. Sahar Albazar who stressed the nations’ sense of responsibility in ensuring a liveable planet for future generations.
She urged the need for the international community to adjust the financing of the fight against climate change since heavily indebted countries will be making the transition to a green economy and disclosed that the Ubuntu initiative for Climate Financing launched by young parliamentarians from lower-middle-income countries including Ghana, Senegal, Egypt and Indonesia.
She also emphasized the importance of more debt-for-climate swaps, with an emphasis on adaptation and called for the immediate suspension of IMF surcharges, which are additional costs over and above interest rates creating an unfair burden for countries.
The lawmaker also mentioned the importance of creating a common framework for lower-middle-income countries, similar to the G20 framework for low-income countries.
Distinguished speakers who graced the Dialogue include Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Moses M. Wetang’ula, EGH, MP, Speaker of the National Assembly of Kenya, Prof. Dr Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation, Mr. Amjad Abbashar, Chief of the UNDRR Regional Office for Africa and Ms. Gauri Singh, Deputy Director-General of IRENA.
Other are Hon. Bärbel Höhn, Chair of GRC, former MP of the German Bundestag and acting Commissioner for Energy Reform in Africa for the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, and Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, Member of Parliament and Chair of the Presidential Initiative on Climate Change, Renewable Energy and Food Security of Sierra Leone.
Speaker of the National Assembly of Kenya, Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Moses M. Wetang’ula, EGH, MP, urged for innovative solutions and for Africans to think differently, moving “from being a continent of despair to a continent of hope because the future is here in Africa”.
CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) Prof. Dr Patrick Verkooijen, emphasised the potential of parliamentarians to be the architects of change and the adaptation advocates that the world needs.
Chief of the UNDRR Regional Office for Africa, Mr Amjad Abbashar said climate change is the largest social and economic threat in the world and stated that climate-related disasters have doubled over the last 20 years.
The UNDRR as custodian of the Sendai Framework is making efforts through the implementation of national resilience mechanisms and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) strategies.
He underscored the importance of engaging legislators and ensuring enough resources are allocated to build global and national capacities in averting and minimising loss and damage.
Deputy Director-General of IRENA, Ms Gauri Singh on her part said renewables have not only become the most cost-effective way of producing power but have also been noted as the source from which approximately 83% of new additions in the global power mix originates.
The Chair of GRC, former MP of the German Bundestag and acting Commissioner for Energy Reform in Africa for the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, Hon. Bärbel Höhn said supply-chain disruption has impacted global energy and food prices and applauded the collaboration between parliamentarians during this Dialogue.
She declared that “now” is the time for change, and it can be accomplished with legislators’ support. A better life for African populations, for the people on the ground, must be sought and striven for.
Dr Kandeh Yumkella, who is Chair of the Presidential Initiative on Climate Change, Renewable Energy and Food Security of Sierra Leone, congratulated Kenya on becoming the leader of the global climate agenda: “Kenya at 92% renewables in the energy mix can speak truth to Germany, to the United States, to China”. While major emitting countries are the primary contributors to the climate problem, Africa is taking a leading role in addressing these challenges and working towards solutions.
He challenged Africa to change perspectives, from being a victim of climate change to a fighter against this global problem.
The legislators committed to participate in the inaugural Accountability Summit for Parliamentarians at COP28, which aims to oversee progress and facilitate enhancements in line with the commitments made during the Africa Climate Summit.
For African parliamentarians say the dialogue has clarified the importance of their role and their understanding of the subject and has undoubtedly helped to strengthen their action and enthusiasm for climate governance and its processes.
The Dialogue has deepened an important conversation on the role of parliaments, a momentum which should be continued in the climate negotiations at COP28 and beyond. It culminated with the adoption of an Outcome Statement, which highlighted key actions and findings of the Dialogue while reaffirming parliamentarians’ commitment to climate action, promotion of international collaboration, and pledge to increase accountability and monitoring.
The session was attended by around 300 participants from organisations with a keen interest in parliamentary issues, Members of Parliament from across the African continent, including Benin, DRC, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, the East African Legislative Assembly and Members of both the Senate and National Assembly of the Kenyan Parliament and their staff.